The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence’s smallest member company is making a play for a bigger footprint and a better customer experience.
WillowWood, the prosthetic product manufacturer and COE member based south of Columbus, opened a new office in Salt Lake City, Utah, in recent months as part of a move to cut down on shipping times for its West Coast customers and gain more business in the market. The company is leasing office space and manufacturing space, running a four-employee operation that’s – for now – exclusively dedicated to its custom fabrication business.
WillowWood makes a number of products for amputees, but its custom fabrication operation is a critical part of it. This entails making “sockets” that slide over a protective sock-like liner the company also makes. To avoid discomfort or, worse, injury, the socket must be custom-made to fit perfectly on an amputee’s residual limb – sometimes above the knee, sometimes below – before connecting to a prosthetic foot or pylon.
At the beginning of this process, a prosthetist sends WillowWood a plaster cast of the residual limb to ensure the socket is precisely custom made, but shipping that from the West Coast to the company’s Mt. Sterling headquarters could take nearly a week in some instances before fabrication could even begin.
WillowWood COO John Matera said that for the company, which employs 211, the new office was “a small step, but a big enough step for us.”
“Our big push was to get service turnaround time a lot shorter than it was for the West Coast,” Matera said.
Sights also are set on growing sales in the market without plaster casts and finished custom fabrication needing to criss-cross the country. It’s a notable step forward for a company with a 100-plus-year history that’s now led by Ryan Arbogast (pictured in featured image above), whose great-grandfather founded WillowWood in 1907.
“WillowWood has been working to provide innovative products and services to clinicians and amputees for over a century,” Arbogast said. “When we see an opportunity to expand our services in a way that gives our customers more and better options, we do our best to take advantage.”
If America’s top health insurers weren’t thinking about the threat of disruption much before, they were after the stock market opened on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Online retail juggernaut Amazon joined with Warren Buffett-owned conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway (owner of COE member NetJets) and banking giant JPMorgan Chase to announce they’re forming an independent health care company to serve their employees in the U.S., according to a report in the New York Times. The companies employ a combined million-plus globally, many of which are stateside.
Even though details on the plan were scant – the trio said the partnership will be focused on creating technological solutions that drive simplicity and lower costs – stock prices for companies like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Humana and Cigna took a hit. The Times aptly noted that the “lines that have separated traditionally distinct (healthcare) sectors … are increasingly blurred,” and companies with the scale – and cash – of the Amazon/Berkshire/Chase triumvirate are poised to blur them further.
This latest threat of disruption to the healthcare industry comes after years of similar shake-ups in the technology, entertainment, and retail sectors, among others. Those three, according to a 2015 Cisco report, Digital Vortex, are the most vulnerable through 2020 to the entry of disruptors who can fundamentally change business as usual. Near the bottom of that list in 2015, at least slightly safer: Healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
In just a few years, the game has changed.
Count longtime COE member Cardinal Health Inc. among those standing confident as the broader healthcare supply chain faces disruption. Newly named CEO Mike Kaufmann speaking at a conference just weeks ago said the company has the scale, supply chain sophistication and pricing that would make it a formidable incumbent to beat, even for the Amazons of the world.
Amid unprecedented change in the insurance space, companies such as COE member Nationwide are trying to keep a step ahead – and even get in at the investor level on growing disruptive forces. The company this past summer hired a chief innovation officer and announced plans to invest $100 million in startups, saying the move “lays the foundation for the company to lead on businesses and technologies that anticipate future and emerging changes.”
Companies going forward may be defined by their ability to anticipate and react to disruption. At the Center for Operational Excellence, we believe the foundation of that is a culture that values continuous learning, thinking about the best practices that become “next practices.”
At COE’s upcoming Leading Through Excellence summit, April 10-12, we’re driving a conversation about disruption that companies need to start having if they haven’t already done so. That same Cisco report found that 45% of respondents to a large-scale executive survey said digital disruption isn’t a board-level concern. Only 25% said then that they were actively responding by disrupting their own business.
At the summit, we’re thrilled to host one of the authors of the Digital Vortex report and book: Jeff Loucks, now the executive director of Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media & Telecommunications. Loucks in a featured breakout session on April 11 will be sharing insights from Digital Vortex, helping attendees better understand how and why disruption occurs – an what they can do about it.
Loucks’ presentation is just one of a number of opportunities to better understand disruption and see how some companies are managing to disrupt themselves …
On Tuesday, April 10, award-winning innovation researcher Aravind Chandrasekaran leads an interactive workshop designed to help companies manage disruptive innovation through changing market and customer conditions.
That afternoon, COE is taking a group of attendees off-site to The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research. Part of that tour will include an up-close look at how autonomous vehicle technology is poised to change the entire automotive industry.
Building off the bird’s-eye view of disruption Loucks offers in his breakout, David Kalman from change consulting company Root Inc. in another session will guide attendees through a discussion about how they can create innovative disruption within their own organizations.
A team from Columbus-based insurer and COE member Nationwide will be hosting a presentation and panel discussion on how technology is transforming processes at the organization.
Kalyan Sakthivelayutham, VP of Information Technology for DHL Supply Chain, will be offering a look inside how the company is ahead of the curve in introducing technology such as Google Glass and robotics inside its own operations.
You might not know the name Lancaster Colony, but you almost certainly have one of its products in your refrigerator or freezer right now.
Lancaster Colony is the company that owns and makes the market-dominating Marzetti salad dressing and dip brand along with other products such as Sister Schubert’s homemade rolls and New York Brand Bakery Texas toast. It’s a $1.2 billion-a-year company based in Columbus, part of the Center for Operational Excellence since 1998 – and starting a brand new chapter in its corporate story.
David Ciesinski, who joined the company as COO in 2016 and took over as CEO last year, will be highlighting that new chapter in a keynote address he’s delivering to close out COE’s first members-only session of the year: A Feb. 9 networking and learning event at the Blackwell on the campus of Fisher College of Business.
New to Lancaster Colony, Ciesinski is a seasoned veteran of the packaged food industry who’s served in leadership roles at well-known brands such as H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
In his new role with Lancaster Colony, he’s said he’s making continuous improvement a central focus of the company’s forward momentum, leveraging a multimillion-dollar project portfolio and growing team of Black Belts to cut expenses in products’ journey to the shelf and eliminate waste along the way. More importantly, Ciesinski said he’s working to create a culture in which employees are driven by purpose and data-centric decision making.
That sense of purpose and data-rooted decision making will both prove critical in the years ahead for Lancaster Colony, which is dealing with unprecedented change in consumer preferences that are shaking up the restaurant industry (the company supplies a number of top chains in addition to brand-licensing deals on their own products) and grocery aisles (the company’s biggest customer is Wal-Mart). Lancaster Colony itself, though, is no stranger to change. The company was formed in 1961 when several glass and housewares makers merged and went public in 1969, when it bought T. Marzetti Co.
In the subsequent decades, the company grew as a conglomerate, selling a wide range of products. As recently as 2003, its glassware, candle and automotive businesses made up more than 40% of its sales. Since then, the company has made a concerted move to sharpen its focus on its food brands, becoming exclusively so by 2014.
In his presentation, Ciesinski will offer a candid look at his lessons learned in this new era for a company with a more than half-century legacy.
This session is available for in-person attendance and via livestream for members. Registration is available here.
This morning’s Academy Award nominations – and the long shadow of the shocking mishap at last year’s Oscars ceremony – are as a good a reminder as any that no process, and no industry, is too good for a little operational excellence.
If you don’t remember, the Oscars ended last February with screen icons Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announcing musical La La Land as Best Picture. As the ebullient acceptance speeches were overtaken by a swell of confused behind-the-scenes commotion, it was revealed that the wrong movie had been announced, a first in the 89-year history of the event. It was a stunning mishap in desperate need of root-cause analysis and some countermeasures, both of which have taken place over the past year.
In the run-up to this morning’s Oscars nomination announcement, the Associated Press and New York Times reported that PwC, the accounting firm that tabulates the votes and hands out the envelopes, has adopted new rules and processes to prevent the snafu from happening again. Countermeasures now in place:
A double-check before presenters go onstage that they have the right envelope;
A confirmation by a stage manager beforehand;
An additional account who has memorized the winners’ list seated in the control room with producers;
No phone or social media use by PwC accountants backstage; and
Worst-case scenario rehearsals of what to do in case it happens again.
As for the accountants who kicked off a chain reaction of confusion by handing Dunaway the wrong envelope last year? They’re not coming back.
Vanity Fair lamented this week that the vibe backstage is likely to be less spontaneous, but it’s unlikely the terrified trio of PwC accountants will mind a little standard work.
The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence’s partnership with the Ohio Manufacturing Institute continues with a new podcast featuring recent event keynote and supply chain expert Robert Handfield.
Handfield (pictured, right), who spoke at COE’s Oct. 20 Supply Chain Symposium, sat down with MFG TMW podcast host Kathryn Kelley while in town for the event. Handfield is the Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management at North Carolina State University and director of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative who also co-authored the recently released book The LIVING Supply Chain.
In the interview, Handfield tackles the changes he’s witnessed in his decades studying the global supply chain, chief among them an explosion of data that’s creating serious opportunity – and serious challenges – for companies.
Leveraging that data with today’s technology, Handfield says, can bring real-time visibility that can offer critical insight in an unpredictable world. To get true value from these tools, though, suppliers and customers throughout the chain need to learn how to coexist, Handfield tells Kelley.
“Companies need to work with their partners to solve problems collaboratively – and that’s the only way we’re going to survive,” he says.
COE regularly partners with OMI to bring speakers to Manufacturing Tomorrow. Past COE collaborations have resulted in podcasts interviewing Snap-On Inc. CEO Nick Pinchuk, Executive Director Peg Pennington, and more.
For its first event of the new year, The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is featuring the chief executive of one of Columbus’ iconic consumer brands.
Serving as the 1 p.m. keynote at COE’s Feb. 9 learning and networking session is David Ciesinski (pictured, right), CEO of Columbus-based Lancaster Colony Corp., which owns and produces the Marzetti food brand and many others. Ciesinski, who joined Lancaster Colony as president and COO in 2016, stepped into the top role this past May.
Ciesinski has spent years in the competitive packaged foods industry, including leadership stints at H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and received his master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
In his keynote, Ciesinski will share insights from his decades in leadership roles and offer a look inside a staple of the region’s business landscape that’s growing sales and margins in a transformative time for the industry.
The afternoon keynote will cap a day that begins at 10:30 a.m., when attendees can choose to attend one of three interactive learning sessions run by COE Executive Director Peg Pennington; researcher and sourcing expert John Gray; and Ralph Greco, director of the Nationwide Center for Advanced Customer Insights. After the 90-minute learning sessions, all attendees will converge for a noon networking lunch before Ciesinski’s keynote.
Registration for this members-only event opens Tuesday, Jan. 9.
18 events. More than 60 presentations, workshops, tours and benchmarking opportunities. Countless “a-ha!” moments.
The Center for Operational Excellence’s 25-year milestone was its busiest ever, and plans are in the works for another exciting year of programming designed to connect our members to the latest best practices in process excellence. With the new year just days away, we’re offering a look back at some of our event highlights from 2017 …
January 2017: COE started and ended its year with member Huntington National Bank opening its doors to share how it’s driven transformational change. Huntington hosted the first of four “grassroots” benchmarking sessions, where leaders from more than a dozen COE member companies meet quarterly at a host company to share best practices on a specific topic. Interested in joining the group? Contact session moderator and COE Executive Director Peg Pennington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 2017: For its fifth-annual summit Leading Through Excellence summit, COE took hundreds of members to seven different tour sites across the state of Ohio. Here, leaders from member Engineered Profiles show tour attendees best practices in leader standard work, a tour being offered again during the 2018 summit.
April 2017: Buckeyes Football Coach Urban Meyer kicked off the third and final day of COE’s Leading Through Excellence summit, sharing insights from his personal journey and encouraging attendees to always keep a look out for the next great idea: “Always learn. There’s always someone out there doing a great job with something.”
June 2017: How can lean principles apply to a nationally renowned startup culture? And what can big companies learn from it? COE’s popular I.T. Leadership Network series returned with a presentation from Nate Lusher (pictured, left) and Rick Neighbarger from Columbus-based healthcare software company CoverMyMeds. COE is offering a tour of CoverMyMeds’ award-winning headquarters during its 2018 Leading Through Excellence summit.
June 2017: Paula Bennett, CEO of women’s apparel retailer J.Jill, spoke to an at-capacity crowd for COE’s Women’s Leadership Forum series. Bennett, a graduate of Fisher College of Business, recently took the company public, staking out rare territory in the IPO scene: Research has shown that only about 3% of IPOs in the past decade have been led by a female CEO.
July 2017: A pair of summer sessions COE presented in collaboration with three other centers at Fisher kicked off in July with a look at the “talent war,” featuring a presentation from the Brookings Institution on changing workforce dynamics and a wide-ranging panel discussion with human resources leaders from Cardinal Health, Marathon Petroleum, Nationwide and Wendy’s. COE’s collaborative summer sessions will return in 2018 on June 27 and Aug. 8. Stay tuned for programming details.
August 2017: COE’s summer sessions continued with a look at the “Digital Vortex” and how disruptive competitors are shaking up the business landscape for even the most established companies. Cisco’s Jeremy Aston (pictured, above) kicked off the session with a keynote on the company’s research, which has found that, while executives are expecting digital disruption, too few are actively preparing for it.
October 2017: COE’s semi-annual Supply Chain Symposium series held its second event of the year, connecting center member companies with Fisher MBA students pursuing careers in the field. Author and North Carolina State University Prof. Robert Handfield keynoted the session with insights from his latest, The Living Supply Chain.
December 2017: How can we drive cultural change by changing the questions we ask our people? Opening up COE’s final event of 2017, Huntington National Bank EVP and Chief Continuous Improvement Officer Jeff Sturm showed how the organization has instilled leadership behaviors that are helping sustain a years-long cultural change effort. Sturm’s session, along with that of afternoon keynote Tim Judge, is available to stream in full-length and “ShortCut” versions on our members-only website.
How can we drive the results we get as leaders by changing the questions we ask?
What does it mean to be a leader of vision, of purpose?
The Center for Operational Excellence explored these critical leadership questions in its final event of year on Dec. 8, featuring keynotes from a top leader at Columbus’s Huntington National Bank and a renowned management researcher who recently joined the faculty at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.
Both keynote addresses from Jeff Sturm, Huntington’s executive vice president and chief continuous improvement officer, and Tim Judge, Joseph A. Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness, are now available in the Digital Content Archive of COE’s members-only website in their full versions, along with their presentation decks and a 15-minute video cut. The latter version – dubbed “ShortCuts” – is part of a new member benefit being rolled out throughout 2018, in which notable COE presentations will be available in a shorter format, suitable for breaks or team “lunch and learn” discussions.
Access all of these versions in COE’s Digital Content Archive by entering your unique, validated member username and password (Don’t have one yet? Get that here). The Digital Content Archive, which includes more than 100 past presentations, is just one part of the broader Members Only site, which also offers:
Exclusive access to session livestreams;
PDF presentations from COE’s annual Leading Through Excellence summit; and
The Ohio State University Center for Operational Excellence is heading into the new year with a new member on its core team.
Krista Barezinsky (pictured, right) joined COE in December as its member relations manager. In her role, Krista leads efforts to ensure the center’s nearly 40 partner companies receive maximum value from their membership, whether engaging with Fisher College of Business faculty and students or connecting with other member companies to share best practices. Krista also will play a role in member recruitment and coordination of COE’s event roster, leading planning for its Women’s Leadership Forum series and managing Leading Through Excellence summit sponsor and vendor engagement.
Krista joins COE from Columbus-based Event Marketing Strategies, where she served as an account coordinator and oversaw the implementation and sales process for more than 60 corporate partners at the Ohio State Fair and Arnold Sports Festival, two of the largest events in Columbus. She graduated from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in communications and currently serves in a volunteer capacity as keynote committee co-chair for Columbus’ Women for Economic & Leadership Development (WELD) organization.
“We’re thrilled to have Krista join our center at an exciting time in its history, having just celebrated the 25th anniversary of our founding and the fifth anniversary of our summit,” said COE Executive Director Peg Pennington. “Our members will benefit from having a central point of contact for accessing the vast resources available in our operational excellence ‘ecosystem’ here at Fisher and in the business community.”
In her role, Krista is part of COE’s core operations team, which includes Pennington; Matt Burns, associate director of marketing and communications; and Jackie McClure, administrative associate. COE also has a number of Fisher faculty researchers and industry experts who serve as center associate directors.
Are you thinking about how your process excellence journey is going to guide your organization – and yourself – through the digital future?
You certainly should be.
A report released this month by the Brookings Institution titled “Digitization and the American Workforce” paints a fascinating picture of how digital technology is changing the jobs we do. Brookings analyzed how the digital content of more than 500 jobs has changed since 2001. According to the report, the share of jobs requiring a low digital skill level has plunged from 56 percent to 30 percent, while those requiring a high level of digital skill vaulted from a mere 5 percent in 2002 to 23 percent last year.
How does that look close up? Brookings assigned a “digital score” ranging from 1 to 100 for the hundreds of jobs it analyzed – a software developer, for example, scores a 94 these days, while a construction worker scores a 17. Tracking the change in less than two decades, Brookings researchers found some jobs have seen a startling spike in their digital score: In 2002, a tool and die maker had a digital score of 2. Last year, that same occupation scored a 51, putting it in the digital skill ranks of nurses and automotive service techs. As for the general and operations managers that make up many of our Center for Operational Excellence members, their digital score grew from 50 in 2002 to 61 last year.
Brookings also tracked digital scores at the state and metropolitan level by sizing up their industry/job spread, finding Ohio’s mean digital score nearly double in a decade and a half, from 24 to 45. Columbus saw similar growth, moving from a relatively low-skill average of 25 in 2002 to the medium range — 42 — by last year.
What does all this mean? On the plus side, Brookings researchers said, it’s driving potential for increased productivity and higher pay ranges. On the minus side, digital skill and the growth of digital technology are unevenly spread across industries and regions, which could be widening pay disparities and stifling job creation in certain sectors.
The bottom line, however, is that digital skill is a must – and training and education programs will need to act accordingly. Brookings researchers recommend prioritizing growth in the high-skill IT talent pipeline and basic digital literacy, the latter to prevent a wide swath of American jobs from being “off-limits” to people who need them most.